湖滨中学(Lakeside School, Seattle, WA)

By Tiffany Sorensen


Every student learns in a unique way. Most agree that there are at least three major learning styles: auditory, kinesthetic and visual; auditory learners learn best by listening, kinesthetic learners learn best by doing and visual learners learn best by seeing.

To maximize your ACT or SAT study efforts, consider aligning your test prep to your learning style with these three steps.

Assess your learning style or styles section by section. Learning styles are not mutually exclusive – you can exhibit one, two, three or more learning styles at the same time. It is for this reason that you should not necessarily adapt your ACT or SAT prep to a single learning style. Instead, experiment with different strategies for each section to assess your learning style and determine which techniques work best for you.

Auditory learners, for instance, benefit from listening to lectures, as well as hearing themselves speak aloud. To study for ACT or SAT math, an auditory learner might create a catchy jingle that centers on core mathematical principles. Listening to tutorials on YouTube can also be helpful for students who are auditorily inclined.

Kinesthetic learners, who benefit most from hands-on interaction, could draw and label geometric shapes, charts and graphs. Another suggestion is to engage in a secondary physical activity, such as walking while studying, as physical stimulation can help keep kinesthetic learners focused.

Visual learners might review index cards that contain formulas and shapes, and use color-coded highlighters to assist with content association.

Consider recent observations about your learning style or styles. Just as your interests and knowledge base change over time, so, too, does your learning style. Since your learning style(s) may evolve, you should base your ACT or SAT prep on very recent observations that you have made about yourself. Consider your patterns and performance as a learner during recent weeks and months, rather than during past years.

Perhaps you were especially skilled at remembering images when you were a child. Such a talent could suggest that you are a visual learner, but a great deal may have changed since that time.

If you are not certain, experiment with different study techniques to see what suits you. Also consider taking a practice test at home, where you can experiment with several methods for each learning style.

Periodically reassess your learning style or styles throughout your prep. It is advantageous for you to regularly assess the efficacy of your learning style(s) and strategies throughout your prep. In case you have reached any inaccurate conclusions, reviewing your progress thus far can reveal any errors in your judgment.

Another reason to vary your ACT or SAT study techniques is that methods aligned to one learning style may not work as effectively on all sections. For example, you may find that the visual method of reviewing index cards is not of much help when preparing for reading comprehension questions. Instead, you may find you retain more information when you employ the kinesthetic method of moving a body part as you read.

The trickiest part of working with learning styles is determining what your learning style is. Follow these tips to gain a sense of how you learn best.